Baahubali has taken the world by storm: Milan Luthria
The director talks about the film, it’s title his fourth collaboration with Ajay Devgn and much more.
You have worked with Ajay & Emraan before, how was it to join hands with them for another film after Once upon a time in Mumbai?
The idea was to get them back and not rehash the same feel of the previous movie. The backdrop of the film, the actors in this film and various other aspects make a difference in Ajay and Emraan’s chemistry. I am really excited to have both of them again in a different kind of film. Once upon a time in Mumbai was very much of Ajay Vs Emraan but Baadshaho is a very different film which has an ensemble cast. All the actors in the film are playing grey characters.
Was it difficult to get the dates from Ajay?
He is actually not doing multiple films anymore. For the last 2-3 years, he has been doing one film at a time. When you sign a big star, you cannot expect to start shooting in 2 months. It does take a year. They are stars and you have to work around them.
Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Doobara didn't work as well as the original one. Does it feel that it was due to the change of the cast?
No, I don’t think that there was any other issue in that film except for what happened at the time of the release. There was a major confusion and the things that had happened were unfortunate. Our release was shifted and we did not get enough screens. The reach of the film to the audience was limited, which I feel was the one big thing that went against that film. I don’t feel it has to do anything with the casting because people today are very acceptable with the change of cast. Otherwise, how Jolly LLB 2 would have done 101 crores at the box office? In our case, this whole thing became a big drama, when we were very clear that we are releasing the movie on Eid along with Chennai Express. But, at the last minute, they asked us to shift the dates and their theatres didn’t come to us. But anyway, now things are done and dusted.
Why Baadshaho? What was the idea behind the title?
We wanted a word that covers the six characters and gives them a feeling of larger than life. In North people use a common phrase called ‘Kya Haal Hai Baadshaho’. My writer, Rajat Arora suggested the title and it just felt right. Sometimes you don’t think too much and go with your instincts. From the time the film was announced people have been thinking that Baadshaho is a character but that’s not true. The title goes for all 6 - Ajay, Emraan, Ileana D’cruz, Esha Gupta, Sanjay Mishra and Vidyut Jammwal. Baadshaho covers my cast really well.
Heard the film was set at the emergency period...
In 1975, emergency was declared in India. Law and order was suspended, the press was gagged and the parliament was suspended. I was shooting for Kacche Dhaage in Rajasthan and one of my friends Raj Bansal who is a distributor over there told me about the riots that took place during these emergency. He stated that gold and several ancient treasures were taken away. Till today nobody knows where it has gone. I got fascinated when I researched about it and found it has been recorded on the internet. An emergency is just a backdrop of the film and the film is not a political one.
Had you ever imagined a film of the south (Baahubali) would make a great impression all over the world?
Nobody would have. It has taken the world by storm. It’s my kind of film; larger than life, dramatic, with loads of action and music brought to life by a multi-star cast. I feel there are very few filmmakers who are coming up with that kind of material. Also the generation that we are living in today is less dramatic. Baahubali has picked up the dramatic elements and enhanced it. For me, it’s a very good sign for my kind of film-making.
Where do we lack then?
We just need an imagination and a very good writing. You need to be tolerant enough to get done with the painstaking execution. I have taken 3 years to make Baadshaho. You need to have that much patience in you.
This film marks the fourth collaboration for you and Ajay Devgn, how has your bond been with him over the years?
We have met at every stage of our lives. When I was a director, he was an upcoming actor, we were drinking buddies. When he got married, I was one of the few people at his wedding. Our children were born in the same hospital and same month. We did an iconic film together which by god’s grace became unforgettable. Today we both are fathers, producers and directors but the equation between us is still the same. We have a very quick understanding with each other. There’s telepathy, he gets to know if I am upset by with just a second’s look at me and I get to know when he is uncomfortable even he is standing far away from me.